Truth is, all fish contain some amount of mercury, which can affect a child’s brain and nervous system if consumed in large amounts over time. But fish is also flush with health benefits: It’s a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals—and some varieties are rich in essential omega-3 fats. These are all nutrients that are important in the period of fetal brain development and during growth and development in early childhood. (Keep in mind there is also evidence that fish may boast a natural defense against mercury toxicity.)
Because fish is so packed with good nutrition for growing bodies, the FDA recommends that kids get 1-2 servings a week. Here’s what a serving looks like:
- 1 ounce for ages 2-3
- 2 ounces for ages 4-7
- 3 ounces for ages 8-10
- 4 ounces for ages 11 and older (and adults)
It’s okay to have 1-2 servings a week from the Best Choices category, which includes:
- Canned light tuna
It’s okay to have one serving a week from the Good Choices category, which includes:
- Mahi Mahi
- Canned albacore (white) tuna
You should completely avoid these fish, which have the highest mercury levels:
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
- Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico)
- Bigeye tuna
If you’d like to eat more fish but can’t get the family on board, here are some ideas for making it kid-friendly:
- Wrap it in tortillas and let everyone choose their toppings. Get the recipe for Teriyaki Salmon Tacos.
- Cut fillets into strips or bite-sized chunks, bread it, and bake it. Then let kids dunk it into ketchup, tartar sauce, or other dips.
- Brush a thin layer of sweet sauce, such as teriyaki or barbecue sauce, on top of the fish before baking.
What are your favorite ways to serve fish to your family?